The James Van Rhee Student Society

The James Van Rhee (JVR) Student Society was established in the spring of 2018 by the inaugural Yale PA Online cohort (2020). This group of 41 students felt that the student society helped maintain camaraderie and inclusiveness between peers in the cohort.

The students unanimously agreed to name the society in honor of Program Director James Van Rhee for his efforts in establishing this innovative program, which had positively impacted their lives and provided a unique learning opportunity.

James Van Rhee Student Society Bylaws (PDF, 65KB)

Cohort 2023 Class Officer Introductions and Responsibilities

Amelia Toomey

Toomey was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and currently lives in Columbus, OH with her husband. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Science with a certificate in Multicultural Studies from the University of Missouri – Columbia. After graduating, she worked as a cardiac rhythm management clinical specialist for Boston Scientific, serving as an expert on implantable cardiac devices and helping to coordinate research trials. 

After PA school, Toomey plans to practice in cardiac electrophysiology and continue to participate in research to advance the therapy options available for patients with implantable cardiac devices and electrophysiologic cardiac conditions. She also hopes to continue her education to earn her Doctor of Medical Science and teach in the field of cardiology.  

Toomey has volunteered for over 10 years with Team Activities for Special Kids (TASK) in St. Louis. TASK is a year-round instructional sports program that provides athletic and social opportunities to kids with developmental and physical disabilities. She now works with her husband to help coordinate the medical care of the campers at TASK each summer. TASK camp is one of their favorite weeks of the year. From this experience, she became very passionate about providing adaptive and high-quality medical care for children and adults with developmental disabilities. She hopes to one day open a low-cost clinic with adaptive and sensory friendly exam rooms along with providing in-office sedation to make medical procedures manageable for these patients and their families. 

In her free time, Toomey enjoys spending time outdoors, walking to local coffee shops in her neighborhood, watching Netflix, and borrowing her friends’ dogs for walks.

Andrea Sparr

Sparr was born and raised in Gaffney, SC. She earned her Bachelor of Applied Science from Siena Heights University in Michigan. She has worked in health care for the past 12 years as a certified surgical technologist, specializing in plastic surgery, dermatology, and ob-gyn procedures. She also has served on the board of directors for the South Carolina State Assembly of Surgical Technologists for the last five years. 

Sparr wants to work in underserved areas where she currently resides in Charlotte, NC. In her free time, Sparr enjoys traveling, cooking, and just spending time with her husband and three dogs.

Jamie Hill

Hill graduated from Siena Heights University in Adrian, MI with a Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Studies and a minor in Healthcare Management. They were born and raised in Michigan’s Thumb region where they have worked as a paramedic for 15 years. Hill also holds a certificate in Professional Emergency Management and provides education and training in emergency response, safety, and security for individuals and organizations. 

They are interested in working in primary care to bring affirming LGBTQ+ care to their rural hometown. Hill, their wife, and two children live outside of the small town where they met and are active in the community through volunteering with the Sheriff Department Search and Rescue Team and the local high school drama club.

Chelsea Waldrop
CT State Representative

Waldrop graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and from Georgetown University with a Master of Science in Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases. After graduating, she spent several years in the defense policy arena with a specialty in biological weapons and pandemics. She balanced this with teaching as an adjunct associate professor for the University of Maryland Global Campus. 

Waldrop lives in Oklahoma with her husband, three kids, dog, fish, and two snails. When not out kayaking, she enjoys knitting and listening to her kids talk about Minecraft. While the pandemic put a pause on travel plans, she looks forward to going back out and continuing to explore the world. After graduation, she hopes to work in urgent care, dermatology, primary care, occupational medicine, or orthopedics.

Quita Griffith
Diversity Representative

Born in Trinidad, Griffith came to the United States when she was 18. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Barry University in Miami Shores, FL. 

Prior to PA school, she worked as a mental health and substance abuse therapist in maximum security prisons and residential rehab clinics across Florida. Griffith also spent time with the Florida Department of Children and Families, where she worked exclusively with victims and offenders engaged in human trafficking and various other forms of abuse. 

It was during this time that she witnessed the disparate access to quality health care faced by individuals in the criminal justice system, both while incarcerated and post-release. These experiences led Griffith to eventually become interested in becoming a primary care provider, more specifically, within correctional settings.

Griffith’s free time is mostly spent traveling with her partner or enjoying meals with friends, when she’s not wrangling her six-year-old daughter.

Christina (Christy) Ruiz (she/her/hers)
Student Academy Representative

Ruiz was born and raised in Hialeah, FL, and then lived in Hawaii for several years before moving to San Diego, CA, where she currently resides. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and a Master of Public Health degree with an emphasis in health education & health promotion, both attained at California State University-San Marcos. Ruiz has worked as a medical assistant, registered dental assistant, micro tutor, academic success coach, physical therapy aide, and Spanish medical interpreter. 

Ruiz’s interests include primary care, emergency medicine, public health integration into clinical medicine, reduction of health disparities, oral health integration into primary care, preventative medicine, health care access for the underserved, access to mental health, sexual and reproductive health & rights, quality improvement of safety-net clinics, health policy, advocacy, teaching, increasing diversity in higher education, and mentoring. 

If not at her desk, you can find Ruiz shuffling her children to baseball or the zoo/safari park, as well as enjoying the sunshine by hiking, hitting the beach/pool, and trying new craft beers at fun breweries. She also loves talking about PA school, public health, and her academic journey with prospective students at different schools and clubs or through social media!

Jacob Riegelsberger
Student Academy Representative – Alternate

Riegelsberger has been living in San Antonio, TX for more than 20 years and enjoys the vibrant and rich culture South Texas has to offer.  He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and also has an Associates of Science in Health Sciences and Associates of Arts in Music Technology from the Alamo Colleges.

Since 2007, Riegelsberger has been working as a prehospital professional and has spent his career in various aspects of critical care, flight, and remote duty medicine, in addition to being an EMS educator and co-founder of a startup medical device company. He has a passion for critical care and LGBTQ2IA+ primary care and one day hopes to serve his community as a provider in both capacities.  

In his free time, Riegelsberger enjoys composing for piano, crafting home-baked goodies, camping, hiking, and anything else that allows him to spend time outdoors with his nine-month-old Vizsla puppy.

Emily Muff
Outreach Representative

Muff is from a small town north of Portland, OR. She joined the Navy after high school as a Hospital Corpsman, where she specialized as a surgical technologist for five years. She later earned a Bachelor of Science in Natural Science and conducted research on the importance of soil microbial diversity.  

She met her husband in the Navy. He still serves in the Navy and moving frequently allows them to explore many parts of the world. They currently live in San Diego with their son and dog. Whether in America or overseas, Muff looks forward to providing medical care wherever the Navy sends her and her family. In her free time, she loves gardening, being active, and cooking new recipes.